Wednesday, 20 July 2016

We are the 37%

Outrage was caused this week by the revelation that Hampstead School had been hit by another year of poor building results.

The results, that come with the end of the Summer Term, showed that only 63% of the 5 buildings required had been completed, and of that only 15% had achieved Grade-A standard.

In response, the Head stated that: “This year’s results can’t be compared to any other year, that’s for certain.” However, critics have pointed to a consistent lack of school building on the site over the past five years, calling it a “trend”.

“Look, it’s been a bad year for buildings all across the country,” said one insider source. “When school building is going into negative figures in Edinburgh, you can’t blame us for our results being slightly lacking.”

Couldn't Have Plannered It

As another year comes to a close, we thought it was only right to take a look back. In a year in which the Head trumpeted the need for a 'growth mindset' - which some may call a 'malign tumour' - and found a new, oriental way to spout the same bollocks about improvement,  neither were so epitomised as much as they were in this year's planner 'improvements'. 

One such improvement was the transposition of contentless, omni-applicable motivational quotes from posters, assemblies and the back pages of the ETC. to each page of the planner. Since irony doesn't seem to escape the school, only evade those who run it, below are some of those quotes that we thought could no doubt relate to the school, the Head and their troubled past:
"Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." - George Bernard Shaw 
"Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." - Anon. [Hence why the school tries to inspire us so much.] 
"It is not our abilities that show us who we truly are... it is our choices." - Anon. 
"If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you." - Anon. 
"When I look at my children's report cards, I don't look at grades, I look at EFFORT. That's all that matters to me. That they are trying as hard as they can." - Tidjane Thiam [which is why the school focuses so much on, er, grades and doesn't really evaluate students on effort] 
"Mistakes are proof that you are trying." - Anon. [Next to a box reminding students about late detentions and negative behaviour points.]

Say Hello. Wave Goodbye.

So. Farewell, then. Our brave and orangey comrade. As one of the SLT quits Hampstead to go to pastures new, to be Head of Regent High School and hopefully make another group of kids slightly less miserable in their formative years, the school is left scrambling to fill a deputy headship place by the summer.

Despite the sour tones of the Head’s remarks in the job application pack, there were a great many oddities espoused in such a document, not least of which being the “2.8 Deputies and 3 Assistant Heads” the school currently has. Last time I checked, 0.8 of a person isn’t a person, unless one of the senior team is just some legs and a torso and no one has yet to notice. Or, perhaps, the school wants to make clear its equal opportunities for dwarves.

The Head also remarked that he wanted his management to join him in his “ambitious vision for the school as we become outstanding”, rather telling what with the last Ofsted inspection’s grave let down for him. We know other leaders have had an ‘ambitious vision’, but they normally involved the annexation of the Sudetenland. Readers will notice the frequency of the word ‘outstanding’ becoming more commonplace in school literature, as if they can somehow trick the inspector through exposure.

The Head said he would “need someone who will also have their own challenging ideas to contribute”. Bollocks to that, mate. We all know how the Head reacts to being challenged, and by his cohort no less. The last thing the Head will want will be anyone ‘challenging’ his grand ‘vision’.

Of course, he had to sign off with the phrase “a commitment to improving the life chances of all our students”, lest ye swear and doth write blogs.

The job description itself required candidates to be “totally enthusiastic and optimistic in your aspiration as to what is achievable”, as if one part of that sentence doesn’t slightly contradict the other, and “driven by moral purpose”, which obviously isn’t a criterion for a Hampstead headship. A lot of the criteria were meaningless jargon that combined buzzwords in ways that just about made grammatical sense, such as “To ensure vision ownership and engagement from staff”, however, under the “Marketing” section (because, apparently, a state school needs marketing) it asked for candidates “To actively promote the school and its corporate well-being at every single opportunity”. ‘Actively promote’ we will put to one side, as readers can try to imagine what passive promotion is, but it is funny that it asks to promote the school’s ‘corporate well-being’; not the students', the school’s corporate well-being. Something tells me the unwritten word here is 'defamation'. 

Thursday, 14 July 2016

New Education Secretary Revealed

Many will have seen today that, in the latest Tory cabinet reshuffle by new Prime Minister Theresa May, Justine Greening MP was announced as the new Secretary for Education, with both Michael Gove and alleged goat-starer Nicki Morgan being shuffled out. Whilst their departure may bring a chorus of hurrahs from the flanks of the education system, Ms Greening may not be the successor many want.

Some readers will remember that some months back the very same Justine Greening, when the minister for International Development, came to Hampstead School with self-styled diplomat and demi-god Tom Hiddleston to promote, er, something. At the time we reported on her record as an MP on education issues. She voted for the bill (that was since reduced) to convert all schools to academies regardless of the benefits, against requiring consultation of parents before converting a school to an academy and voted to scrap support grants for university students. In fact, since 2010, she has only rebelled against the Tory whip eight times, making her a perfect leader.

When she was at the school, the Secretary of State said that after this meeting she wanted to go to the World Humanitarian Summit with some (pre-established) ideas and be “able to say ‘well this is what UK young people think’.” Not being funny, but the few students in the room at the time do not accurately represent what Hampstead Young people think and do, let alone what all 11 million children in this country think. It doesn't take a mathematician to tell you a ten kids from a single school does not make a great sample to extrapolate for all kids.

So, whilst the Head may choose to boast about his connection to the top of the education chain, students may have cause to be wary about what parts of the current agenda Justine Greening will continue in her reign.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Abdina May to Lead School Council

Following San Andreas Coallung's resignation from the closely followed School Council leadership race, Abdina May addressed hungry journalists and sycophantic "class reps", who naturally could not refrain from a "hearty chorus" of "yeaaaaa" whenever May spoke.

Dismissing allegations that she looked "an awful lot like Comrade Maggie", Ms May outlined her vision for a school where "each pupil was treated more equally than the last" and "break time cookies weren't reserved for the privileged few who had been let out early."

Peering at what may well have been a cue card, May delivered the most memorable phrase after being sworn in as School Council leader; "The full name of my party is the Toby and Unionist Party. Even though the school has decided to leave the Norf Weezie Union, taking a separatist stance, which I wholly uphold, we must remain as one school".

Ms May is the second female student to take the position of council leader. Some reasons why this figure is not higher is said to be either down to the arcane school rules of diversity, in which all ethnicities have to be fairly represented, or because of widespread student apathy.

Whether a new leader will combat rising donut prices and the further shrinking of the jellies remains to be scene. All current forecasts portray a bleak and resounding 'nah'.